A couple of weeks ago, I was driving up the large hill that greets me every time I leave the city on the way to my home. Over the last twenty years, between our own house and my in-laws, I must have traveled this highway many thousands of times. Because of the elevation in altitude, our weather can be surprisingly different than our friends in town. As I was cresting over the top of the hill, I drove straight into a dense fog. I have always liked fog. I find it so cool. The heavier it is, the better.
When I was a kid, I loved to wake up in the morning to have the fog surround me as I walked to school, obscuring the neighbourhood, erasing all that stands behind. The world became a private place.
As I drove I noticed that my headlights were not helping. As neat as it is to watch the light beams emanate from the front of the car into nothingness, they were almost useless. They only lit up this fuzzy wall that loomed before me.
Suddenly, I felt less confident on the road. I travel it countless times, each curve taken by instinct than intention, yet it became strange and unfamiliar. I slowed down, my eyes darting for anything familiar. I gripped the steering wheel with both hands. The shortened lines on the highway offered little warning of an impending turn. Dipping into a valley, the fog lifted slightly offering more perspective, only to crouch in once again as I reached the top.
The fog is beautiful when you are still, even comforting. But when you must move forward it can be disorientating. As much as this is true on the road, it is equally so in life. I have found that times of physical, emotional or spiritual fog can hardly be described as beautiful. Yet, it affects our “environment” in the very same way. It muffles the sound. It mutes out the colour. It weighs down the air. It obscures our vision. It erases the line on the horizon, our last resort for perspective.
Fog is disorientating and at times even fearful. However we are forced to continue forward, because there is no time to stop. To do so would allow the fog to creep in even closer. So we move forward, yet restrained on previously familiar ground, stumbling cautiously where we once ran.
But to run would be foolish. To pretend the fog is not there is incredibly unwise, nor is it an exercise of faith. To deny this current reality is not real faith. It is simply lying.
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:1
Genuine faith does not “unsee” what is actually in front of us, rather it sees something else that isn’t. We do not act as if the fog is not there, but by faith we know there is more behind it. Fog merely covers and obscures what is even more real.
When the sun eventually comes up and has its way, the light and warmth cut through quite convincingly. Soon our vision improves and we can see as far as we care to.
What to do in the meantime? For starters, avoid hitting the gas and flicking on the high-beams. When in a fog, slow down and be okay with it. Take your time and look for familiar markers along life’s road to help navigate between the ditches. These markers look like the support from family members, good friends, prayer, community worship, scripture, hobbies, music, nature. Whatever breathes life into your spirit.
These things can act as eyes of faith that see past the fog to the warm, sunny day on the other side.